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tv   America This Morning  ABC  September 10, 2010 3:00am-3:30am PST

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♪ fire coming from down, it's behind our backyard. and it's like all light. i thought this is judgment day. >> in a devastating instant, a fireball turns a quiet evening into a terrifying race for safety for hundreds of people in san bruno. >> we're beginning at 4 a.m. because of the fire in san bruno. thank you for joining us. >> let's catch up on the latest. these from a ruptured pg&e gas main beneath a neighborhood as
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we say in the hills of san bruno. the latest to control the flames and begin the search for possible victims. >> firefighters kept the flames from spreading even more but several homes are still smoldering this morning. the gas-fed fire consumed dozens of homes within minutes of when it began around 6:15 last night. it overwhelmed firefighters who responded from several nearby communities. so far one person confirmed dead, 24 people hurt, some in critical condition this morning. it has destroyed 53 homes and damaged 120 others. again, at least 120 others. firefighters have the fire 50% contained. >> team coverage begins with our crews at the scene. abc 7 terry mcsweeney is near ground zero at our latest location, terry, lindsay and sky crest, right? >> glenview and skycrest. i'm here because the lieutenant governor, the acting governor
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with arnold schwarzenegger out of the country is here right now surveying the situation. he is seeing fire still burning in san bruno. but firefighters do have the area, surrounded the area where 173 homes were damaged or destroyed last night. take a look at some of the truly spectacular and amazing devastating pictures that we have from the scene last night. according to pg&e, a 24-inch gas line blew about 6:15 in the evening. they don't know what caused it yet. it left a 15 foot crater behind and a lot of devastation. and when it blew it knocked out the nearby water main so when firefighters arrived to fight the fire, they had no water and they didn't have any water for 30 minutes. it had to be brought in in 500 gallon lots. they were shooting it off of trucks, off tanker trucks. last night we talked to some of the hundreds of people whose lives were changed in an instant. >> a big boom. a big kaboom and the house shook
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and i pulled the blinds up. it was like a -- just came up. >> i was in the kitchen. i thought it was a earthquake, like a lot of people. i looked out the window, and i saw what -- to me it was a fireball. and i thought it was a plane that caught fire or something that was crashing. >> we know of one fatality at this point. a couple dozen injuries. some people are in critical condition. but no one knows if anyone did not get out of that burned neighborhood. the door to door search is going to take place when things are safe on the ground when the fires are all out and the gas lines have been emptied. acting governor, lieutenant gamble able mald nad dough is here and taking a look at the scene right now. it has been -- it is declared an emergency situation out here so that more state assistance can be given to the area out here.
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and you take a look at those pictures, you can understand just how much assistance this area is going to need, 173 homes destroyed and lives changed for ever. we have more in 30 minutes. we hope to ask the acting governor shortly. terry mcsweeney, abc 7 news. >> terry, thank you very much. one of the first journalists on the scene arrived just moments after the explosion. freelance photographer brian karmady. he described what he saw. >> i got here 15 minutes after it happened. >> these are your pictures? >> that's correct. >> the fire was absolutely -- the gas line was actually burning right behind that home right there that you see burning. and what struck me, aside from the obvious heat, was the sound that this thing was making. it was clear to me when i got there that this was something to do with gas and not a plane.
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there was a lot of debris from an explosion that had happened. there were actually holes in the roofs of some of the houses from rocks that were falling. the firefighters were -- i had several come up to me and say that they were just frustrated. there was nothing that they could do. >> you can see from the intensity of the flames why folks would want to get away from the area as quickly as possible. san bruno's recreation center was pressed into service as an evacuation shelter. dozens are waking up there this morning. that's where laura anthony is now. good morning, lawyer. >> good morning, eric. folks are still asleep i'm told on the floor above me. this level at the veterans memorial rec center, the main center and the red cross center, you can see the volunteers here are getting ready for the morning. they are organizing clothes, lots of donations, food. all sorts of things getting
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ready for folks not only staying here but folks who might be in need who come here later in the morning. of course, we're talking about all of those people who were evacuated last night during the fire disaster. the numbers are still coming in. at one point we were told about 100 people were evacuated here at this center i am told there are only about 15 who are actually staying here tonight. others are at other shelters. there's another church in the area where i'm told there may be six to eight other individuals. all of the folks who come here certainly have a story to tell. >> thank god it wasn't an airplane. it was very frightening to watch. after that, i got my kids in the van, and i -- really didn't know what was happening. so i took off. >> the red cross is here with the pillows and blankets and food. looks like a great setup. we figured if there's anyone we know we wanna take them home with us. they're right around the corner. we came down.
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>> back here live at the veterans memorial rec center. folks are getting ready again for the morning hours. there's a two-fold purpose, not just to provide shelter in the short-term for those who came here last night but also to provide services and clothing, food, water. whatever people need who when they wake up this morning may be cannot go back to their homes, don't know what the fate is of their home and they need some short-term supplies and i'm told 8:30 this morning there will be a whole sort of one-stop shopping city services area available where people can come for help with questions about insurance, for instance, or getting building permits if their home's been destroyed. all of those services i'm told will be gathered here as well later this morning. so there is quite a bit going on here even at this hour at the veterans memorial center. live in san bruno, laura
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anthony. >> our time now 4:07. >> the fire knocked out power in the area. the height of the fire some 5,000 pg&e customers were in the dark and even this morning driving up 101 i just took a quick look up in the hills and that whole area pretty dark. let's talk to pg&e spokesman jeff smith by phone. if you can update us on the power situation, how many without power and what areas and the nearby landmarks like skyline college. >> as you mentioned where there initially were 5,000 customers without power and right now we're still working to get those folks restored as quickly and safely as we can. i would be remiss if i didn't mention first and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with those of that been directly impacted by this tragedy. it's a terrible, terrible tragedy and the priority of course now is help make the area safe. we've got crews on the scene that are available to do that. and, you know, our thoughts and prayers really are with those directly impacted by this
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terrible, term tragedy. >> jeff, walk us through what pg&e knows what happened at this point? >> you know, at this point the cause has yet to be determined. we do know a pg&e gas transmission line was ruptured. and if it is determined that we were responsible for the cause of the incident, we absolutely will take accountability. at this point it's still very early in the process of the investigation so these details are just not available at this point. but our focus continues to be on the folks of that been directly impacted and we're working with the red cross to make sure that -- i would just mention in your earlier report, the red cross can provide emergency shelter for those folks in need. >> we realize you're still gathering information. but we're getting reports residents had smelled gas as much as a week before the explosion yesterday. can you tell us anything about that and on your end have you been following those reports, how many did you get in the week prior? >> at this point there's a lot
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of speculation out there and it just wouldn't be prudent to comment on the speculation until we -- until the investigation moves forward a little bit and some of those facts are able to be confirmed. >> you got reports of people smelling gas of that neighborhood in the past week. >> as i mentioned, i wouldn't want to speculate on that right now simply because there's a lot of facts that still need to be confirmed at this point in time. the investigation is still very early on. i don't want to present anything -- anything other than -- that is unconfirmed at this point in time. our focus continues to be on making the situation safe and the investigation moves forward, there are lots of questions and those questions certainly deserve answers as the investigation moves forward. those answers will ultimately be provided. >> jeff, i realize you had to shut off the mains to that area. is there still danger though from gas there? >> you know, we're working with the first responders on scene in
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order to make sure the situation is safe and that's certainly a cooperative effort. we have all the first responders in look at the various circumstances around. we're continuing to work with them to make sure the situation is safe. that's our first priority. and we will continue to -- we'll continue to do that until the collective group of folks that are examining the situation determine that it is safe. and we're still going forward working with those folks and doing that right now. >> jeff, thanks a lot. if you could just get back to us when you find out if skyline college has power in that area. that would be wonderful. we'll talk with you later this morning. >> it's 4:11. at least two victims ended up in san francisco hospital while trying to escape from the fire. a man described what happened to his aunt and grandmother. >> my aunted is all right. she broke her arm and that's it. >> how did she break her arm?
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>> she hopped over the fence. i guess when she -- i'm not too sure what bone but pretty much snapped it in half on her upper arm. >> she was that desperate to get away. >> yes. >> she knew. >> i guess her instincts came into play and she did whatever she had to do to get him out. she has a collapsed lung, second degree burns on her arms. they were able to get out of the house by themselves through the back fence. >> i want to give you more critical information for parents. the fire's also affecting some schools in san bruno. again, we were checking on skyline college and whether that area has power but the san bruno parks school district says its elementary schools will be closed but cappuccino high school, the only high school in san bruno will be open. an emergency appeal for blood donations. especially need type o which can be given to anyone in an emergency. a spokesperson for the blood center says approximate burn victims often need plasma for surgeries. to find out where you can donate
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blood where go to our website abc7news.com. find out ways you can help as well as photos and videos as submitted by our viewers. >> it's 4:12 right now. we're on early because will have what happened in san bruno, the explosion and fire from last night and the effects it continues to have this morning. frances is checking traffic. frances, we know some surface streets in san bruno are shut down. >> definitely avoid the area if you don't need to be there. here's a look at the map. if you're going on 280, we actually have off-ramps blocked. the san bruno avenue off-ramp is blocked after 280 as we will as sneed and that's what gets to skyline. in addition some of the major roads closed are skyline boulevard, also known as highway 35 which is closed all the way out to west borrow and college. so for a lot of folks heading to skyline college, i checked the website. right now it says access routes to the campus will be posted. we're waiting to hear from pg&e
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spokesperson jeff smith if there's even power at skyline college. also if you're heading towards sfo, everything is open on 280 but you may also want to consider 101 and try to avoid the area as much as possible. now, mike has been following the winds overnight and he's taking a look at the whether today as well. mike? >> a good morning to you. we got lucky last night and this morning. high pressure moving over. it stopped the marine layer influence. winds only 3 mph. normal they'd be 15 to 25 mph as i air shoots through the san bruno gap. because of the wind, not a factor. the relative humidity about 77%. this afternoon the winds will start to pick up. they'll be out of the west about 10 to 15 and tonight the influence of the marine layer will kick in and we should have a 10 to 20 mph wind as we head toward the overnight hours. the winds are going to gradually
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get worse for the firefighters as we head through the evening and into the overnight. this fire was burning so hot our infrared satellite could pick up the figure. that little black spot, that is the heat from the san bruno fire. that's pretty impressive. talk about our temperatures. upper 40s napa and novato. low to mid-40s till antioch and 59. warmer weather today with a few clouds along the coast. temperatures 51 half moon bay, upper 60s san francisco and richmond. low to mid-70s through the bay, upper 70s the south bay and low to mid-80s our inland valleys. seven-day forecast, what we're dealing with are temperatures that are pretty much like this through the weekend and into early next week. here's kristen with more news. >> mike, here's a story of great relief last night with all the chaos. so many people showed up at the evacuation shelter to help victims that the city had to set
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up a spill-over location to register. we caught up with bill carrying clothes and blankets back to his car. he left with absolutely nothing, not even his wife. >> i was -- my wife is at home and then after that my wife is lost and i don't know where to pick her up. and probably, you know, we just -- >> did you find your wife? >> yes. yes, she's right here now. >> for a while she was gone. >> she was gone. >> his wife and his dog. bill told us he believes his homemade it through okay but won't know for sure until he and his wife are allowed back into the neighborhood to see for themselves. >> and we'd like to share some of the photos our viewers have sent in from the san bruno fire. take a look. the devastation is just stunning. you can see the intensity of the fire. if you've stood near a house fire where a home is fully engulfed in flames, you know how the heat radiates from there. and this from several homes
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burning as well as a gas-fed fire up into the air, the heat must have been incredible there. look at those pictures of the just flames spreading from one place to another fully visible from the freeway. if you have video you'd like to share, you can upload it to youreport@abc7news.com. we'll be right back with the latest on the effort to knock down the flames that remain and the search for more possible the search for more possible victims. it's great. i t anything that i want. key lime pie, pineapple upside down cake. no, i've actually lost weight... [ female announcer ] over 30 delicious flavors at around 100 calories each. [ wife ] babe... i gotta go. [ female announcer ] yoplait, it is so good. r every pink lid you send in, yoplait will donate 10 cents to susan g. komen for the cure. with your help, we've donated $25 million over 12 years. so let's continue to make a difference one lid at a time.
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skycrest. >> and word from the san bruno police department that they have declared the entire area a crime scene, and they are going to be asking all the media to move an additional block away from where the fire took place even though we are out here near lenardi's gas station and things seem to be quite a distance away from where the fire burned. but getting back to the story at hand, 173 homes damaged or destroyed by this fire. and the spectacular pictures that we have been seeing all morning long and since yesterday were shot by a free chance photographer. the shots from the ground level were shot by a freelance photographer, brian karmady. when you got there, describe what it was like. >> when we first pulled up, the thing that struck me the most was the found the sound incredible of this gas escaping from the ground.
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made a huge roaring sound just over and over again. the radiant heat from the gas ball itself was too much for us to handle so we actually put on some - we carry very basic firefighting gear as you guys do too and the helmet and goggles did wonders. >> some point early in the going, your vehicle was commandeered in a way you were asked to participate in the rescue of this situation here? >> they asked me for my car -- >> the firefighters? >> the fire department asked me for my car to actually evacuate a woman -- actually not sure it was a man or woman who had been badly burned. i never saw what was going on. they came up to me, obviously carrying somebody. they said can we use your car. i gave the keys over and they drove off with this person in my car. >> your car was returned later? >> my car was not returned. it was left four blocks away in a parking lot and the windows open and the whole thing and i'm glad my stuff's still there.
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>> and you continued to shoot the video as the scene progressed. some bizarre situations. >> we saw -- one thing that really struck me is the firefighters when -- first of all they did a fantastic job yesterday. what they did though when i first got there, could see them going door to door and trying to make sure everybody was out. in the process of doing that we saw them rescue a dog out of a house. that was nice to see. the other thing it was apparent they had no water. water main that provided water to the hydrants close by to this thing had no water at all. apparently the explosion took out some water main there. >> brian, thanks very much. i couldn't help but notice you're on a different disaster, the 1906 earthquake which burned san francisco, it was the quake that knocked out the water mains then and firefighters were left to try to deal with an inferno with a few hundred gallons at a
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time. the exact situation out here in san bruno. in fact, it continued the water main was destroyed. they brought out 500 gallon tankers to deal with it. acting governor is on the scene out here checking out the situation. we are told that he's going to be speaking to the media. we were initially told about 7 a.m.. it may be sooner than that. we are being asked to move back away from what is called a crime scene by san bruno police. as far as any survivors, police, firefighters, rescue personnel, emergency personnel are getting down into the area when it's safe and all the fires are out and when the gas lines have been emptied, they're going to go house to house looking for possibly more victims of this fire. live in san bruno, terry mcsweeney, abc 7 news. >> terry, that explored that crime scene thing, you said authorities are declaring this a crime scene. is that procedural or is there something more ominous than that? >> i do not know.
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it just seems there's a great deal of confusion among the -- understandably so, this was a massive inferno, one person dead, a couple dozen injured, some in critical condition, 173 homes damaged or destroyed. it was a huge situation and police are trying to figure their way through it. they have declared it a crime scene. no media can get in that way. it is one way to control the situation better. as far as something more ominous than that, i have no indication that it is. >> terry, we saw when we were talking to brian some of the footage he shot from last night that showed those intense flames bubbling up out of homes in the nearby area. what is the situation right now as far as flames and as far as containment goes. well, if you look at it from a distance, it looks like an encampment of some kind. you have a glow here, a small fire going there. but firefighters have the
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situation, have the area that burned surrounded. they feel very confident it's not going to be going any further. the gas shut off a long time ago. they empty the gas from the existing lines that went into the homes that are still there. so they feel they have the situation under control. >> so it's gonna be a while though before they can get in and actually find out what the cause was because they still have to handle these small fires. >> yeah. and the latest we have -- again, this is a changing situation. you can't really plan for something certainly exactly like this or even really terribly similar to this. but the last thing we heard it was going to be this afternoon when they're going to be able to really start that searchs that could change at the light of day. we'll have a much better situation, better idea of the situation on the ground. >> all right. terry mcsweeney there near or where the fire began in san bruno. thanks a lot. >> we continue to hear incredible stories and one after
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the other what people in the area were doing as this blast happened. one man who lives on claremont drive was sitting down to dinner with his wife and two young children when the explosion happened just after 6:00. >> just as we're sitting down, started shaking, our house started shaking. we thought it was a earthquake, looking for a door frame to go under. i was telling the kids don't worry, just go tie door frame. it just kept getting worse and worse and louder and louder. for some reason i said go to the garage, everybody go to the garage. we kind of moved, like four people stuck together to the garage. i looked out our back wisconsin is on the canyon and i saw debris falling on our deck and i saw flames. i don't know where they were coming from. and my wife opened up the garage door and people were running down the street -- >> there were early reports that the explosion left a crater up to 15 feet deep in that area. we caught up with two san bruno
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council members at the evacuation shelter. they thought they had prepared at least a plan for every catastrophe but now realize no one anticipated anything like this. >> we're operating under the emergency plan that's been put in place for quite a few years. we update it every year. we've had information through fema. >> not even our group can get in there, get close. all they were concerned about was evacuating people. >> the long night is dragging into a long morning for hundreds of firefighters. trying to get a handle on the fire there. >> while you were speaking we just got an update from pg&e. they got back to us with some figures how many without power. we're talking 700 customers without power at the moment and 300 without gas right now. and we asked the question about skyline college which is not too far away from the epicenter of this and they say the college does have power this morning. that's down from the 5,000 customers without power
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yesterday. >> 4:27. we're going to take a break right now. we'll continue our live team coverage of the san bruno explosion and fire in just two m ♪ ♪ yes! ♪ oh my gosh, are those the jeans from last year? how'd you do it? ting right...whole grain. [ female announcer ] people who eat more whole grain tend to have healthier body weights. multigrain cheerios has five whole grains and 110 lightly sweetened calories. more grains. less you! multigrain cheerios. it's a good snack. you're welcome. they grow so fast. [ woman ] i know. they do, don't they? why is carol sitting all the way over there? carol almost told evan that there are vegetables in the chef boyardee. nearly ruined their favorite after-school snack. so she's in a time-out. i hope she learns from this. [ female announcer ] chef boyardee micro beef ravioli microwave cups.
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